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Warning: Some images in this article show partial nudity and may be NSFW.

What does an athlete look like?

Tall? Short? Slender? Buff? There's no right or wrong answer, really. They come in various sizes, shapes, colors, sexual orientations, and genders, with all sorts of abilities and disabilities too.

ESPN magazine has been helping challenge misperceptions about athletes and their bodies since its annual Body Issue debuted in 2009. And this year's edition is continuing to push boundaries in exciting ways.  





For the first time, same-sex partners appear together in the much-anticipated issue.

WNBA star Sue Bird and her partner soccer player Megan Rapinoe snapped pics for the publication, and the photos are pretty darn fantastic.


[rebelmouse-image 19398005 dam="1" original_size="743x479" caption="Bird (left) and Rapino (right). Photo by Radka Leitmeritz/ESPN." expand=1]Bird (left) and Rapino (right). Photo by Radka Leitmeritz/ESPN.

"It's pretty amazing to think about [being the first same-sex couple], especially in the times we're in," Rapinoe told the magazine. "Just think of how far we've come, but also the current climate and defiance in the face of that. Not only are we female athletes, but we're dating as well. It's kind of badass."

[rebelmouse-image 19398006 dam="1" original_size="521x624" caption="Rapino (left) and Bird (right). Photo by Radka Leitmeritz/ESPN." expand=1]Rapino (left) and Bird (right). Photo by Radka Leitmeritz/ESPN.

Openly gay Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon is also in this year's issue.

“I couldn't have done this [shoot] while I was in the closet," Rippon said. "I think that, with my experience of coming out, I felt so liberated in so many ways.”

[rebelmouse-image 19398007 dam="1" original_size="524x629" caption="Photo by Mark Seliger/ESPN." expand=1]Photo by Mark Seliger/ESPN.

The magazine has also made strides to celebrate different body types and athletes with varied experiences outside of sports.

Tennis player Esther Vergeer, who uses a wheelchair, graced its pages in 2010. MLB player Prince Fielder's appearance in the 2014 issue sparked the body positive hashtag #HuskyTwitter into existence.

Transgender triathlete Chris Mosier continued breaking down barriers in 2016 with his feature in the magazine.

"Now I feel very comfortable in my own skin," Mosier explained. "I think the reason I felt so inspired to do it is that I'm finally at a place where I feel very comfortable with my body. And as a trans person, being in a body that didn't really fit me for 29 years, now I feel very comfortable in my own skin."

Blazing these trails matters.

Young people are watching sports — and reading magazine spreads. And when they can see themselves in the stars on a soccer field, or Olympians in an ice skating rink, it makes big dreams much more achievable.

"I think it's important to do these things first," Rapinoe told ESPN for this year's issue. "It's important for people to come out. Visibility is important."

Check out a preview gallery of the 2018 Body Issue before it hits stands on June 29.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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Part of what makes the beauty of fall unique is that it's fleeting. Mother Nature puts on a vibrant show as she sheds what no longer serves her, inviting us to revel in her purposeful self-destruction. It's a gorgeous example of not only embracing change, but celebrating it.

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